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NEWS AND UPDATES - 2008 Archive

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To see the latest news items, go to the Escapist blog.
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December 31st, 2008 (link to this)

HAPPY NEW YEAR! -  Here's to an adventure-filled 2009 for all!  Thanks to everyone for reading the site, sending me your comments and suggestions, participating in the projects and mad ideas here - but most of all, thanks for gaming, and helping to keep the hobby alive. Keep up the good work in the coming year!

I've uploaded a special New Year message at The Escapistcast, if you would like to give it a listen. Take care of yourselves, celebrate responsibly, and let's all look forward to a Brave New Year!

--- The Escapist ---

December 30th, 2008 (link to this)

"GOLD" EPISODE 1 IS LIVE -  I'm a little late on this one due to the holidays, but better late than never, I always say!

The first episode of the Gold web series is available for your viewing pleasure. You can see it at - and please watch with discretion - the language and situations aren't exactly kid safe.

The next episode premieres on January 23rd, 2009, so keep an eye out for it - and as always, be sure to let them know The Escapist sent you!

ESCAPIST UPDATE ON TWITTER - If you're a Twitter addict, as I'm sure many of you are, you can now get Escapist site updates on your Twitter account - just follow RPGadvocate!

- Rebecca Thomas, the creative force behind The Roleplay Workshop in Oakland, California, was gracious and generous enough to answer my questions about her roleplaying program and how it benefits young people in both education and socialization.

She also shares some insight on the challenges she has faced in turning a passion for roleplaying and education into a business.  Read it at Reading, Writing, & Roleplaying.

--- The Escapist ---

December 4th, 2008 (link to this)

'TWILIGHT' AND MAKING NEW GAMERS -  I have to admit to coming pretty late to the Twilight phenomenon. I hadn't even heard of the books until the movie came out, and when I asked my kids about it, I got my first dose of "Jeeze Dad, that's been popular for forever! Where have you been?"

Of course, it instantly got me thinking about how the popularity of a new movie and book series about vampires could bring new roleplayers to the hobby. And it wasn't long after I started thinking that I spotted this article from City On A Hill Press, which discusses the new vampire craze, and its connections to tabletop and LARP games based on bloodsuckers:

These games are referred to as roleplaying games, or live action games, in which participants create vampiric characters to play out scenarios. The most popular of these games, “Vampire: The Masquerade,” can either be played in real time, where participants play out the scenario in public, or in a private, sit-down setting with dice, much like the ever notorious “Dungeons and Dragons.” Most seasoned gamers said that the addition of the vampire archetype makes “Vampire” different from other fantasy roleplaying games (RPGs) in many fundamental ways.

I'm never one to miss a good opportunity to create new gamers, and this seems like a good one to me! There is, of course, Vampire: The Requiem - or if you'd rather go old-school, I'm sure you can find good deals on the original Vampire: The Masquerade books on eBay or your local Half Price Books. But those aren't your only options - there's the Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel RPGs, and the anime-styled Cold Hands, Dark Hearts for the Big Eyes, Small Mouth RPG - plus a bunch more that I'm sure I've forgotten about.

Consider running a vampire-themed RPG at your local game store or library, and see if you can bring some new gamers to the hobby!

THE NEED FOR DEFENSE - This question was posed by Daniel Donohoo in the review of this site that he posted to GeekDad recently:

...(do we really need to keep explaining that D&D is not satanism, I'm not sure?)...

My answer is yes. And here are my two reasons why:

1. While the negative press against role-playing games has decreased greatly since the 80s and early 90s, there are still events that show us that myths and superstitions still exist in the minds of some. A proper knowledge of what  RPGs are and how they are played would have prevented all of these situations. Here are just a few examples:

- In 2002, the brother of Stephanie Crowe and his friend were found innocent of her 1998 murder when new evidence linked the crime to someone else - until that day, the only evidence against the boys was a coerced confession by police that revealed that both were D&D players. As one news story put it: "Prosecutors portrayed the slaying as an open-and-shut case against three boys warped by an unhealthy passion for dark role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons." (full article

- That same year, the DC Beltway Snipers were incorrectly profiled by Robert Ressler (a reknowned expert on criminal profiling) as possible D&D players, based solely on the fact that they left a Tarot card behind at one of their shootings (even though Tarot and D&D have practically nothing to do with each other).

- In 2003, Christianity Today's website featured a letter from a young person who was looking for alternatives to mainstream RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons and RIFTS. The response to the letter featured the apocryphal story of "Steve" and his downward spiral from mainstream RPGs to "anti-Christian" games, to pornography. It was a callback to an earlier time, when such horror stories were rampant, and never confirmed.

- In 2005, a town in Brazil passed a law banning the sale of RPG books after rumors began to fly about a possible connection between an RPG and a triple murder case.

2. It's not just about defending games, but about promoting critical thinking as well. Just like the age-old concerns about comic books in the 50s and 60s, the claims about the dangers of D&D were ridiculous, but at the time, they struck fear into the hearts of many parents who didn't take the time to think critically on the subject and explore the truth themselves. The same thing has happened more recently with the Pokemon and Harry Potter crazes - games and books were banned from schools and libraries, and pastors frothed about them behind pulpits (and even ritually sacrificed a few, in at least one case).

While this site's focus is on the positive promotion of the roleplaying hobby, I sometimes like to think that encouraging others to be skeptical in the face of ridiculous and extraordinary claims is one of the by-products of the work done here. Hopefully, a time will come when critical thinking will prevail, and the panics over comic books, D&D, Pokemon, and Harry Potter will become a positive lesson to all of us.

--- The Escapist ---

December 2nd, 2008 (link to this)

WELCOME, GEEKDADS (AND GEEKMOMS)! - Daniel Donahoo has been making some great posts about roleplaying with kids on the Wired: GeekDad blog. The most recent installment of the series - and I may be a little biased here - is by far the best. If you've wandered over here from the GeekDad blog, welcome! And please let me know what you think of the site -

THE PLAY'S THE THING - The Associated Press released an article on the importance of play in education that gives a brief mention to fantasy role-play:

Vivian Paley, a former kindergarten teacher at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools and now an author and consultant, says the most vital form of play for young children involves fantasy and role-playing with their peers.

"They're inventing abstract thinking, before the world tells them what to think," Paley said in her speech to the conference.

Read more here: article | archive

--- The Escapist ---

November 26th, 2008 (link to this)

NATIONAL GAMING DAY A SUCCESS - Jenny at the ALA's News about Games and Gaming site has issued an early report on the results of National Gaming Day @ Your Library:
  • 617 libraries registered to participate
  • 597 libraries reported results back to us
  • 14,184 people participated in NGD at those 597 libraries
  • 5,548 people played Pictureka! on Gaming Day
  • 1,137 people played Dungeons & Dragons or Magic: The Gathering
Personally, I'd rather they separate D&D and M:tG, just to get a clearer number that we can try to beat next year. You can read the full post here, which includes lots of anecdotes from libraries all over the United States.

If you participated in National Gaming Day, and ran an RPG for library patrons, let us know about it! Contact me at 

November 21st, 2008 (link to this)

"GOLD" WEB SERIES PREMIERES TODAY - I mentioned the Gold web series in an update about a month ago, and today I got an announcement that the premiere episode, "Prologue: Dark Clouds Gather" has gone live today. I got to watch a special sneak preview earlier this week (being the Grand Poo-Bah of The Escapist has some perks, you know!), and it gave me a few good laughs. It's a strong start for the series.

(And speaking of strong, the language isn't kid or work safe, so please watch with discretion.)

You can see it at - and if you like it, consider dropping a donation into their tip jar. They would greatly appreciate it!

November 10th, 2008 (link to this)

11/15/08 IS NATIONAL GAME DAY @ YOUR LIBRARY - This Saturday, libraries all over the United States will be participating in National Gaming Day, an effort to raise awareness about the use of games in library programs, expose people to new kinds of games, and enable networking between game clubs and libraries.

The focus seems to be primarily on video and board games, but Wizards of the Coast has donated copies of Dungeons & Dragons to help promote the event. This would be an excellent time to contact your local library about organizing a roleplaying program - it may be too late to prepare one in time for Saturday, but most libraries would love to have volunteers the rest of the year.

Find out more at the ALA's website and at

November 4th, 2008 (link to this)

UPDATE ON CHRISTIAN CHILDREN'S FUND - More information has begun to come in on the situation between Gen Con and the Christian Children's Fund - which is looking more and more like a misunderstanding that anything else.

Read more at the BeQuest News page.

October 31st, 2008 (link to this)

HAPPY HALLOWEEN - NOW MAKE SOME GAMERS! - Halloween and role-playing games have a lot in common. Not only do both involve pretending to be other people, but both have a reputation for being the product of dark and sinister forces - when really, they're just about having harmless fun.

The most excellent roleplaying blog Gnome Stew has a great post on how to use this dark, sinister holiday to indoctrinate new participants into our dark, sinister hobby. Check out Halloween - The Perfect Holiday To Turn Non-Gamers Into Gamers! Then, go recruit some new minions!

And Happy Halloween!

October 28th, 2008 (link to this)

"GOLD" WEB SERIES TO PREMIERE THIS FALL - It seems like shows, movies, and short films about RPGs and LARP are popping up everywhere these days, but the most recent one to cross my radar seems to have a unique approach. It's a web series called Gold, that follows the story of four "professional role players" from the United States who hope to win a world championship.

The World Goblins & Gold Role Playing Game Championship is only a few short weeks away. The perennial second-place American team has undergone an upheaval: their longtime team leader, Jonathan Drake, has suffered a tragic gaming-related accident. Maverick player and loose cannon Richard Wright takes the reigns and tries to wrestle his new team into shape before the competition, while despondent Jonathan battles his personal demons. Meanwhile, the World Champion British team, led by the crafty Oliver Crane and sultry Martha Thistlethwait, prepare for the Championship by enlisting a gaming legend as their new coach.

While the idea of "professional" RPG players is a little bit out there, Gold does address a very real issue with the future of the hobby:

As the two factions battle internal and external strife, another threat rears its head: despite a fervent European following, in the U.S., Goblins & Gold is on the decline. Fewer and fewer players are picking up the dice in pursuit of this proud but aging sport, opting instead for Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games and the seductive simplicity of console gaming.

Gold is set to premiere this fall, right here on the internetstubes, but if you can't wait, you can always watch the trailer and a teaser on the Gold website.

October 24th, 2008 (link to this)

CHRISTIAN CHILDREN'S FUND REJECTS GENCON DONATION - A $17,398 donation from an auction held at Gen Con 2008 in Gary Gygax's honor was rejected by the Christian Children's Fund because the donations came from the sale of Dungeons & Dragons products.

For more on the story, check out the BeQuest News page.

October 19th, 2008 (link to this)

The Escapistcast

EPISODE 4 OF THE ESCAPISTCAST IS LIVE - The fourth episode of The Escapistcast, "Editions & Excursions," is now ready for your listening pleasure at

October 9th, 2008 (link to this)

GAMING ADVOCACY CHAT - The folks at RPGLife, a social networking site for roleplayers, have invited me to be a guest speaker! I'll be participating in a moderated chat session on the site on October 24th from 8-10pm EST.

Make sure you don't miss the other speakers they've scheduled for the month of October - actual gaming industry people you've heard about, like Ken St. Andre, Chuck Welon, Eddy Webb, Sean Patrick Fannon, Matt Forbeck, Stan!, and Keith Baker.

If you haven't joined RPGLife yet, you should - it features exclusive events, comics, podcasts, articles, maps, miniatures, product reviews, resource files, a player locator, social groups, members gallery, gamer blogs, and news aggregated daily. All of this, for the low, low price of FREE!

And once you've signed up, be sure to add me as a friend!

OZ NEEDS PLAYTESTERS - Game designer F. Douglas Wall is looking for people to playtest his upcoming RPG based on L. Frank Baum's Oz. Since this is a roleplaying game that would be of particular interest to many young people, I have agreed to help him find suitable playtesters. If you would like to participate, you can contact him at konradthebarbarian /at/ yahoo /dot/ com.

September 24th, 2008 (link to this)

AS BADD AS IT GETS - Since the recent discovery of the 60 Minutes anti-D&D videos generated a bit of interest, I decided put up something on the site that I have been thinking about putting up for some time now. It's a booklet from Bothered About Dungeons & Dragons (B.A.D.D.) that members of the group would hand out to schools and libraries and churches and police stations and to whomever else would care to read it.

Within its pages you will find some classic quote-mining, a comparison of D&D spells to references in occult and anti-occult books as well as both the Holy Bible and the Satanic Bible, and a "Special Center Section" on graveyard desecration, missing children, Satan worship, and witchcraft.

There's no date on the booklet, but I would estimate that it was printed and handed out with passionate fervor sometime around 1984-85, at the height of B.A.D.D.'s viligant work to keep our young people away from the evils of twenty-sided dice, graph paper, Mountain Dew, and cheese curls.

Like it or not, this booklet is part of the history of Dungeons & Dragons - it was used to keep the game out of schools and libraries, and was used as "police education" in many places. 'Cult cops' like Don Rimer continue to use resources like this booklet to this day when investigating crimes that they believe have occultic elements.

I've scanned every page and put them up on the site, along with a few comments and refutations of my own. I'll be adding more of my own commentary as time goes on, but until then, you can view the entire booklet here: As BADD As It Gets

September 12th, 2008 (link to this)

WELL ORGANIZED MAKE-BELIEVE - That's the title of a great article from the Philadelphia Inquirer that focuses on LARP events at Dexcon, a gaming convention in New Jersey.

The hobby even gets a pretty good description, for the benefit of those who know nothing of LARP:

A LARP is like a cross between a Civil War reenactment and the tabletop game Dungeons and Dragons - picture an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer performed by costumed amateurs without a script. LARPers assume a character in each LARP they play and dress up in costumes ranging from the elaborate - like the custom head-plate and shaved eyebrows of Robert Nolan, 29 - to simple street clothes. LARPs can take place almost anywhere - in hotel rooms or bars or simply within the players' imaginations.

(It's interesting to note that LARP can now be explained to the general public as "like... Dungeons and Dragons." It looks like we may have passed the point where the concept of a tabletop RPG has to be explained in an article like this.)

Reporter Lizzie Stark goes on to explain the variety of LARP genres, the use of boffer weapons in some LARPs, and terms like "one-shot" and "campaign." She even gives a glimpse into one players' real life pursuits - a chaplain who works with drug and alcohol addicts.

This sort of positive interest piece has become more common over the last decade or so, and it's nice to see this one in the Philadelphia Inquirer, which was not very RPG-friendly over a decade ago during the Caleb Fairley murders.

But I've rambled enough - read the article here - article | archive - and visit author Lizzie Stark's site at

(And if you're in the East Brunswick, New Jersey area, be sure to visit Dexcon in July - they even give a discount on registration to Escapist readers!)

August 27th, 2008 (link to this)

60 MINUTES ON D&D - Back in 1985, the CBS news program 60 Minutes ran a story on the then-current controversy over Dungeons & Dragons. It featured interviews with Gary Gygax and Dieter Sturm from TSR, B.A.D.D. founder Patricia Pulling, and shamed psychiatrist Thomas Radecki.

I caught this episode when it first aired, and I've been trying to get my hands on a video copy for well over a decade. Now, thanks to YouTube and James Edward Raggi IV from Lamentations of a Flame Princess (where I found these videos posted), we can all enjoy this relic from a darker time, when police were given seminars on how to handle 'RPG crimes,' towns held meetings on whether or not their schools should allow a particular game as an activity, and hardly anyone understood the difference between causation and correlation.

Direct links: PART ONE - PART TWO

Setting the record straight on the claims made in this piece of 'journalism' would take a lot of effort, and most of it has already been done - refutations for every negative claim made here can be found either in the Escapist FAQs, or in Mike Stackpole's Pulling Report.

Due to the ephemeral nature of YouTube, these videos may not stay up for long. If you've missed them, and really need to see them for a research project or the like, contact me at

August 19th, 2008 (link to this)

AN OPEN LETTER TO MICHAEL GOLDFARB - The following is an open letter to Michael Goldfarb, blogger for the John McCain campaign here in the United States, and author of both of these comments:

"The (New York Times)'s editors seem to have all the intelligence and reason of the average Daily Kos diarist sitting at home in his mother's basement and ranting into the ether between games of Dungeons and Dragons." (source)

"It may be typical of the pro-Obama Dungeons & Dragons crowd to disparage a fellow countryman's memory of war from the comfort of mom's basement, but most Americans have the humility and gratitude to respect and learn from the memories of men who suffered on behalf of others." (source)

It's unlikely that Mr. Goldfarb would read this message if I sent it to him directly, given the amount of ire that these statements have stirred up recently (including an unofficial "Pro-Obama Dungeons & Dragons Crowd" t-shirt) - and it's just as unlikely that he will pop on over to this site to read it here - but there are some things that need to be said in reference to his comments, and I can't think of a better place to say them.

Before I begin, I must make it clear that The Escapist does not support any political candidates, and these comments are only in reference to statements made about role-playing games, which this site is focused on. Please don't decide your vote on an issue as trivial as this one, or any other trivial issue. Go for the big issues instead. And please vote. Thank you.

Mr Goldfarb,

In reference to your two recent statements about Dungeons & Dragons players who spend an inordinate amount of time in their parents' basements, I'd like to help you out with a misconception that you seem to be shackled to, and I would appreciate it if you would let the rest of your co-workers know about this as well.

Not all Dungeons & Dragons players are confined to basements, parental or otherwise. Many of them play above ground, in their rec rooms, living rooms, or dining rooms, gathered around tables rolling dice, moving figures about, telling stories of grand adventures, and having a great time of it. You might be surprised to know that people play Dungeons & Dragons and other roleplaying games away from home, too - in schools, libraries, and in game stores all over the country, and most of those games are played above ground as well.

Something you may never have been aware of, and which may genuinely surprise you, is that people in the military, stationed at home and abroad, play Dungeons & Dragons as well. In fact, I would challenge you, Michael Goldfarb, to name a single U.S. Navy ship that does not currently have a regular D&D group on it. I guarantee you that it would take a long time to find one. (You may wish to read this article, found on my website, that mentions the benefits of D&D to sailors on the U.S.S. Carl Vinson.)

Not only that, but service people stationed in Iraq have been known to partake in the occasional D&D game - in fact, ZigguratCon, which was possibly the first ever role-playing convention held in Iraq was held by members of the U.S. Army in 2007, a "Military D&D Game Day" was held on June 7th of this year, and an organization called the Baghdad Hobby Club works to get role-playing books and supplies (as well as other hobby supplies) into the hands of our troops.

And very few, if any, of those games are taking place in basements.

I fully respect Mr. McCain's military service, and I would appreciate it if you would give just a fragment of respect to people who simply enjoy a hobby and aren't really harming anyone.

Thank you for your time,
W.J. Walton
(gamer, but not a blogger)

July 31st, 2008 (link to this)

A CALL FOR HELP - I've had a sudden and unexpected technical problem that will prevent me from doing podcasts for a while. I was getting ready to begin recording episode 4, when I discovered that my headset mic is dead. No amount of cable-switching and wire-jiggling will bring it back to life. On top of that, our financial situation isn't allowing us a lot of disposable income for a little while, so I'm not sure when I'll be able to get a new one. So, as much as I don't like to, I'm biting the bullet and asking for help from my readers and listeners. Here is my request:

  • If anyone out there has some podcast recording equipment that they no longer use or would be willing to donate, please contact me - - I'm looking for a good headset mic, something that will isolate my voice and leave out all of the kid and pet sounds in the background, but I'm willing to accept anything that will improve the quality of the show.
  • Barring that, I am also willing to accept monetary donations. A new headset runs between $30-40, so if a dozen or so Escapistcast listeners each pitched in two or three bucks, you'd be listening to a new episode before you could say "Am I still unconscious?" If even more than that is received, then that means better equipment, which means a better sounding show. I will put all donations towards the podcast, but I'll be happy just to get back to recording again, no matter what. To make a PayPal donation, look for the PayPal button on the right sidebar of the podcast page.
As an incentive, I'll have a special gift for the first person to make a donation, and I'll do something special for everyone who makes a contribution (I'm not exactly sure what it is yet, but I'll think of something...) Thanks for listening and reading, and I hope to be back "on the air" soon.

June 21st, 2008 (link to this)

FREE RPG DAY - That's right folks, today is the second annual Free RPG Day, when game stores everywhere hand out special role-playing goodies. Visit your Friendly Local Game Store today and see what they have for you!

Free RPG Day's home page is at - you can find a participating store on their participating stores page, and get a sneak peek at what will be available on the sponsors page.


June 7th, 2008 (link to this)

WORLDWIDE D&D GAME DAY - JUNE 7TH - The fourth edition of D&D is here, and through some sort of bizarre coincidence, it is also the fifth Worldwide Dungeons & Dragons Game Day.

(Wow, time sure flies. It seems like the last D&D Game Day was just last November...)

So get some gaming buddies together and play some D&D this weekend - find a localtion near you that will be running demos of 4e - or play some 3.5, 2nd edition, or even (gasp!) first edition! Spread the word, invite non-gamers to try it out, and get some kids involved, too!

RPGS FOR KIDS AT ORIGINS - The Origins Game Fair is fast approaching, and I am hosting a series of six RPG events especially for kids and their grownups. For more information, check the Origins 2008 Excursion Agenda page over at the Young Person's Adventure League.

March 17th, 2008 (link to this)

The Escapistcast

EPISODE 0 OF THE ESCAPISTCAST IS LIVE - The introductory episode of The Escapistcast, "Intros & Inspirations," is now ready for your listening pleasure at

March 4th, 2008 (link to this)


(photo by Alan De Smet)

Ernest Gary Gygax
July 27, 1938 - March 4, 2008


March 3rd, 2008 (link to this)

HAPPY GM'S DAY! - March 4th (or 'March Fo(u)rth!') is GM's Day, a holiday organized by the folks at EN World to recognize the efforts of RPG gamemasters everywhere.

So do something nice for your GMs tomorrow. It doesn't have to be something material - you could send a grateful email, card, or phone call, offer to help out at the next game, or anything else to let them know how much you appreciate all of the time and effort they put into your entertainment.

To all GMs - Happy GMs day!

March 1st, 2008 (link to this)

COMING SOON, THE ESCAPISTCAST! - I have been knocking around the idea of doing an Escapist podcast for a couple of years now (because I don't have NEARLY enough on my plate as it is...), and I think the time as finally come.

So, consider this the official announcement - keep your eyes and ears peeled for The Escapistcast, coming soon!

The Escapistcast

If you're a Facebook member, consider joining the Escapist Roleplaying Advocacy Group to get site updates, join in discussions, or just leave some graffiti on the wall!  Hope to see you there!

February 16th, 2008 (link to this)

SQUARE ONE, EPISODE THREE - The globally anticipated third episode of the Square One podcast is finally up and ready to enjoy! This episode is all about creating characters, which is why it is titled "Creating characters (and giving them character)."

Square One is a podcast devoted to helping new gamers discover all of the great things about the hobby. If you know someone who is thinking about giving RPGs a try, let them know about the podcast! You can listen and subscribe at

A young couple from Cleveland, Ohio dubbed the "Goth Bonnie and Clyde," were arrested for the theft of nearly 8.5 million dollars in cash and checks from the armored car company where one of them worked.  Roger Dillon and Nicole Boyd staged the ill-planned heist to escape their poor financial situation and give themselves a better life.

True-crime websites and other media outlets have dubbed the pair with the "Goth Bonnie and Clyde" moniker due to their love of vampire novels and Dungeons & Dragons.  Few, if any, have tried to make the connection between gaming and the crime, other than to mention that the couple were known for having their heads in the clouds.

The two face up to 25 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.

Read more: Fox News (article | archive) -Telegraph (article | archive) - New York Times (article | archive

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